Monday Motivation: March 18, 2019


I meet waaaayyy too many people who get the Sunday scaries and the Monday morning blues. Not me. Well, most of the time, not me.

I actually secretly kinda totally love Mondays. I love my work, and I love the chance to start a fresh new week to kick some ass and get some great work done.

Here’s hoping your Monday gets off to an awesome start. Make that to-do list. Bang out one or two quick things as soon as you sit down at your desk. And set a goal to make yourself stand out this week. What can you do to differentiate yourself?

Here’s a little look at what’s got me goin’ to start this week:

What I’m listening to: Honestly? The ‘80s radio station in my car. I’m kind of brain-fried from all the podcasts I’ve been listening to, so I needed to take a break and jam out to the music from my junior high and high school days. One of the stations in the DC area just changed format from Top 40 to 80s, and I’m loving every minute of it. It’s always amazing to me that I can’t tell you without thinking really long and hard what years World War 1 was fought, but I have never forgotten a lyric or a guitar riff or drum solo from any songs produced between 1979 - 1990.

What I’m reading: The Amulet series graphic novels by Kazu Kibuishi. My 10-year-old nephew blazed through these books so I am reading them, too. I want him to stay engaged in reading, and if he sees an adult enjoying the books he loved, I’m hoping he’ll find more things to read that he can share with me and we can talk about on FaceTime or when we’re together. The Amulet series is an eight-book collection of really interesting stories with beautiful artwork.

What I’m watching: “Workin’ Moms” on Netflix and “Shrill” on Hulu. I binged these both over the weekend and they’re phenomenal. Women-centered stories and characters, relatable voices and storylines, and so incredibly engaging.

What’s canceled: This is hard to write, but it’s Michael Jackson. I haven’t watched “Finding Neverland” or the Oprah after-show, but I believe victims. I believe survivors. I believe Wade and James. Michael Jackson’s music was an integral part of my growing up. Off The Wall remained one of my most favorite albums of all time. He was a cultural icon. But, sometimes you have to let go of something you’ve loved because of something related to it. I choose to believe survivors of sexual assault. So, I no longer own any music by MJ. I switch the radio station if one of his songs come on. And, I have had to force myself to not sing or bop along in the grocery store when one of his tunes is in the mix.

What I’m learning: Patience. Every day. Every way.

What’s making me think: This quote from Seth Godin: “How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”  Powerful shit right there. And he’s right.

Go. Be remarkable. I’m watching and cheering you on!

#AmBranding ... on the #AmWriting podcast

When Jess and KJ ask you to be on their very successful podcast about writing podcast, YOU BE ON THEIR VERY SUCCESSFUL PODCAST ABOUT WRITING. Only, you don’t talk about writing. Kinda sorta.

A member of their Facebook community asked about Personal Branding. Is it crass? Is it gross? Is it too commercial? Should writers (and others) be thinking about it?

Not crass, not gross, not commercial, and heck yes we all should be thinking about what our brand is and how we communicate it.

Click below to listen to the interview.

Procrastireads: Nerd stuff, content stuff, and saying nope

Captain Kirk or Hans Solo? Mark Watney or Professor Dumbledore? Need to amp up your nerd brain?  This comprehensive list will help you get started with the best sci-fi books and movies. 

If you’re asking yourself what do those characters have in common, you’re on the right track to successful brainstorming.

After brainstorming ideas, how do you create compelling content? Steve Alten, author and New York Times bestseller advises folks not to follow the adage of “write what you know.” Instead, he says, “What’s more important to me is writing what people want to read and making yourself an expert on it.”

Are you a “Yes Man?” Are you saying yes to everything and not truly fulfilling your own passion? Learn to say “no” and be selective so you can pursue what is best for you.

Procrastireads: Mondays + Me = NOT GREAT

Ugh, Monday, we meet again. I have never been one of those people who got the Sunday night blues, or dreading waking up Monday mornings.  But, this week, I'm recovering from the flu, and it's allergy season, and thus I’ve got a serious case of the Mondays. Yesterday was Daylight Saving Time where we set the clock an hour forward, so naturally, this morning I was all discombobulated. First order of business, COFFEE!!  Then lots of water.  But now it's time to get to work.

While I waited for the coffee to perk and bubble and steam and pour, I stopped to think, Is everyone like me?  What do highly productive people do to get things done? Some people make lists, or schedule or block off specific creative time in their calendar, while others visualize their day or even make dream boards (gag, this is so *not* me). To give me (and you too) some morning motivation, I’m sharing secrets of the most productive people.  There are things to learn from, and things in this article I know I'll never do.  Still, it's fun to see what gets people going on their productive path.

From getting out in nature, reading books or magazines, networking, everyday conversations, inspiration is everywhere. We’re all inspired by different things. Author Elizabeth Gilbert sat down with the queen of making things happen, Marie Forleo, to discuss the elusive mystery of tackling creativity. Now I’m feeling ready to take on the day. 

How do you keep your productivity flowing and your hustle hydrated?

Procrastireads: Random Thoughts and Stuff and Things


I find my busy schedule (and NOT GETTING OLDER, NO WAY NO HOW) doing me no favors and if you’re anything like me, remembering where I left my keys (usually in my work bag or the fridge or the car) or retaining information from articles or conversations is getting harder by the day. I'm a great note-taker, and ready to get even better at it!

Sometimes reading articles, having weird hobbies, or interesting conversations will inspire creativity. How do you get your creative juices flowing? Check out these tips on how to push your creative boundaries.

I personally find I am my most creative (and productive) when I feel the pressure of a deadline. Some call it procrastination; I think of it more as maximizing my creative productivity time. But really, is procrastination really a problem?  I mean this I tag these posts Procrastireads for a reason, right?

Packing for a trip usually takes me absurdly longer than it should - a girl’s got to have options! I know this, so I always clear my schedule and start early the night before to allow enough time to pack, and take things out and repack. I know I should not procrastinate this, but at least I don’t do it the morning of! Maybe not the best method, but it works for me. Here are some other tips to help you pack your carry-on.

Procrastireads: Comparison is the Thief of Joy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fear of failure and getting out of your own way. I've been thinking and reading more about it, and found a great presentation by Brene Brown where she talks about self-doubt and urges folks to stop focusing on the critics. 

Let’s face it, it is easy to sit behind a computer and critique others, but that’s not valuable feedback. The voices that matter are the ones who show up, put themselves out there, face their anxiety and uncertainty and contribute. 

She says, “If you’re not also in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”  Brene and Teddy Roosevelt are a formidable pair.

There are those that show up and support and others that limit you. Friend or foe, critic or supporter - who you surround yourself with matters. Even at work, having a boss that inspires and encourages growth and creativity is crucial to success. Here are a couple things amazing bosses do differently. 

To be a successful creative, you can’t let jerks or human hurdles stand in your way. Studies show that those who have found success, often swear by their daily routines, or rituals.  But remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Do what works for you.  I like the idea of a morning routine or ritual.  I walk the dog, make coffee, read the paper, and scroll through Twitter before starting my day.

Soon, I'll add to that routine, because morning time is my most creative time and I have a few writing projects that have been sitting too long on the back burner.  It's time to put words on paper (or screen), and get things moving.  That's why I like routines -- they make me produce some good stuff.

Speaking of routines, I recently started scheduling time to sit down for a few minutes twice a week to practice handwriting because mine has gotten sloppy and weird, and I want it to be pretty again. Despite the fact that many schools are no longer teaching cursive, I still think it is a necessity and should be part of the curriculum. Good news is there is this nifty tutorial to help you learn (or relearn) how to write cursive.  Get yourself a pad of writing paper from Staples or Amazon, a pen or pencil you love, and get to writing.  It feels good to work toward pretty handwriting again.

Procrastireads: Get Out of Your Way

I was puttering around the house listening to music the other day when the song Nothing Ever Happens by Rachel Platten came on. She sings about taking chances and risks and it got me thinking about how more often than not, it is our own fear of failure and rejection that prevents us from moving forward. We are often our own worst enemy and harshest critic and we just need to get out of our own way.

Most of my friends and colleagues see me as pretty fearless, but I'mma share a little secret with you:  I'm terrified by a lot of things.  What if something fails? What if something goes well and it changes my life in ways I can't foresee?  What if I try something and ... nothing happens.  What if people judge me?  What if I judge myself?

The advice I always give myself and give to you today is this - don’t let fear hold you back. Start simple and get your ideas out of your head and on paper.  Clearing your head and putting things on paper helps make space for other cool stuff to pop in there.

Once you've gotten over the initial fear hurdle by writing down your ideas and thoughts and plans, it's time to reach out and see who can help.  None of us can do great work in a vacuum, no matter how awesome we think we are.  Now more than ever, we have a multitude of social media platforms to meet people and ask for help.  No one is off limits, especially with technology like Twitter leveling the playing field. Check out this short video with some great tips that are surefire ways to land a meeting with anyone

Speaking of Twitter, I was chatting online today with a reporter who wrote a story about me when I had the crazy idea to cook my way through The French Laundry Cookbook and wrote the blog French Laundry at Home about my adventures in the kitchen teaching myself to cook.  We reminisced about the good old days of blogging, and how much has changed when it comes to promoting your content.  But still, at the core, blogging is both an art and science and it's a great discipline to have to distill thoughts and ideas and find your people to build an online and offline community.

On a completely unrelated note, I need these shoes.  Like, NEED need.  I need to hug whoever created these two-heeled shoes because they're gorgeous and I want to buy them.


Procrastireads: What's your story, morning glory?

We all have stories to share. As a PR and communications consultant, I help brands everywhere tell theirs. How can you help team members identify the untold stories within your company? Here are three ways to uncover great tales within your organization.

Sometimes finding that story is a challenge. Coming up with new stories, campaigns, features - how do you do your best creative thinking? Try workplace meditation. I meditate twice a day -- 20 minutes each time -- and I swear it's the only thing that keeps me sane, creative, and able to sustain the levels of energy I need to get it all done.

There are thousands of apps to pick from, some brilliant and some, not so much. Tech writer Farhad Manjoo recently shared some of his favorites to help with organization, productivity, and creativity. Which apps can you not live without? How do you work?

Failure is sometimes a lesson more important than success. Failing teaches resilience. There is always something to be learned. Christina Wallace shared her experience saying “it's incredibly powerful and liberating to live through your worst-case scenario.” Read the interview here.

Procrastireads: Pimiento Cheese Makes Everything Better

When you’re a big Hollywood director, there’s no shortage of films trying to get made. Adam McKay, director of The Big Short and Ant-Man has solid advice on how to pick a creative project. Before taking on a project he asks himself, “Can I have this be my life for the next year and a half? Am I interested enough, am I excited enough, is there enough meat here that I want to do a year and a half?”  He also creates or asks for deadlines to help him stay on track. Good to know I’m not alone there.  I admire those who do great creative work and ask the big questions ahead of time.

Two of my favorite things: girl power and the love of food. This cool chica is doing it all!

Having a bad day? Pimento cheese makes everything better.

Procrastireads: Reading and writing are fundamental to leadership

A great way to learn to be an outstanding leader is to keep a journal. You can record thoughts and feelings, creative ideas, and let your imagination flow.  Making this a daily habit can reduce stress, focus your efforts on what matter, and you’ll find you are more appreciative of things you would've otherwise forgotten.

Being grateful for their staff and colleagues, forming deep trusting relationships, and knowing the industry are just some of the characteristics of what great executives know and do. 

“I am amazing and things are great” doesn’t let anyone connect with you or know anything about you. Part of being a leader is establishing your personal brand and letting people get to know you. Be authentic and honest and build your audience’s trust. People relate to people on an emotional level, they don’t relate to manufactured robots. So don’t share all your strengths and appear to be perfect; share your weakest moments too and connect with your audience.  

Your reputation will follow you, whether or not the business succeeds or fails. If no one knows your personal brand, your business is meaningless. 

Did you know that the most powerful people are avid readers? Apparently Warren Buffett spends 80% of his day reading. Bill Gates reads for an hour each night before going to bed. And Mark Cuban credits part of his success to the fact that he is willing to read more than anyone else, according to Why You Should Read 50 Books This Year (And How To Do It)

I work way too much (sshhhh, I love what I do), but I also miss reading.  I don't do nearly enough of it.  So, signing off now to get a chapter or two in before it's time for some shut-eye.